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Bike to the Future: My Cycling Experiment

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I will never forget my previous form of transportation. It was not a trendy new ride or a convertible with fancy accessories. It didn't come with any cup holders or a place to hold my sunglasses, but it may have just saved my life. It was a simple old school bike. Although I had once owned a speedy black mustang with a fresh cream interior and even an Audi A4 that had obviously been garage kept by its former owner, those two wheels took me more places than I would ever imagine.

I'm sure that it was quite amusing to watch me huff and puff up the steep hills of the business district in Georgia. I was almost hit once while riding with my headphones on and ironically blasting a song called "Stay" by Rihanna. I would sing out loud, "All along it was fever." It was difficult to manage the sweatiness that followed me into the office, but today I look back at those times and I realize that in spite of the laugher that bike mattered. After storing it in the basement of my high rise apartment it was dismantled by mean people, but I'll never forget its impact on my life. Outside of reading, bike riding may be one of those lost activities that we really need to bring back.

The main reason why this activity comes so highly recommended is because it teaches mindfulness. What is mindfulness? According to PsychologyToday.com, mindfulness is "a state of active, open attention on the present." I never realized how much I wasn't living in the present until I got on that bike and started riding. I remember how I would have to focus on each twist and turn precisely. I was required to pay close attention to the bumps and cracks in the road. It was so different from being in a car and being covered. I could feel the wind, connect with nature and really see the world around me.

Bike riding also improved my lung function. Michael Carmont of BMC Medicine says that cycling has numerous benefits including improved cardiovascular function. In spite of the damage that I caused to my lungs in my youth, I can attest to my continued ability to breathe with ease today. In fact, I can run, dance and even sing! I felt like such a dunce back then, but it was well worth the tarnished image. Those pedals reduced the damage that I had caused, increased my lifespan and developed an enhanced ability to concentrate on that which really matters.

In a recent Independent School publication, Sam Shapiro says, "Based on ancient contemplative traditions, this potent antidote to the stressors of modern lives is a simple yet challenging practice that offers a deep dive into your physical, mental, and emotional experience." Isn't that we are all seeking? Or are we simply looking to relive and justify yesterday? Are we pedaling backwards like the DeLorean time machine or living in the moment?